With the questions of fighter's salary being introduced by ESPN and other media outlets lately, many look toward sponsors to counteract payments for fights. Recently, the MMA Corner’s Rob Tatum wrote about the banning of gun and ammo sponsorships in the UFC.
“The MMA Corner has learned that the ban includes companies related to guns, knives, ammunition, and hunting. It will go into effect on Jan. 23. The ban has been extended to all UFC events, not just those broadcast on the Fox family of networks.”
Now this is interesting because The Gun Store out of Las Vegas has been very pro-UFC and have hosted a number of fighters at their range as well as sponsoring a variety of fighters. But that looks to end January 23rd.
The UFC had another situation last year with Good4U drinks and main sponsor Shane Carwin. Xyience who is the main company for energy drinks for Zuffa, thought Good4U was too close of the same product and was immediately banned from being sponsored on fighter’s shorts.
Now Shane Carwin is still sponsored by Good4U but in a different capacity. The same went for Urijah Faber as I’ve been told that Amp Energy Drinks have been banned from being allowed “in” the Octagon. But with the guns and ammo products being disallowed, it has nothing to do with dueling sponsors.
With the guns and ammo products it seems with the new Fox deal that Zuffa signed, it doesn’t want the violence issue to come up with the guns and ammo sponsorships. The word is that the all of those companies won’t be allowed on either Fox or PPV shows due to that it promotes violence and with already the sport being combative, they don’t want the issue pressed even more.
Ingrained Media that sponsors Shane Carwin along with Chris Camozzi, posted this on their blog 3 days ago regarding the ban:
“Our company has an athlete that is pro-firearm and has an endorsement deal with a small firearms training center. He is paid a monthly salary to endorse the brand and no logo placement is required. This is a true sponsorship to athlete relationship.”
That is a very attractive offer for the fighter who I’m sure will do either a commercial or some kind of publicity for the company as well as do an appearance to support the company. It’s also risky for the business knowing that their logo won’t be seen on a fighter during his fight and relies heavily on the promotion from them. It seems that Ingrained Media has no problem with the banning of companies on fight shorts.
“For the most part MMA sponsorships are about logo placement on televised events. The athletes and brands rarely have a connection let alone an activation strategy. Aside from a few pre and post-fight mentions there is not much (if any) activation."
"Even the biggest names depend more on discretionary bonuses than endorsement deals. They are making more because they are at the top. When they begin to descend it will be interesting to see how many actually end up with a brand of their own that they own and can create revenue from.”
Jason Gnet and his partners brought up great points but many businesses aren't willing to sponsor mid to low card fighters just for publicity outside of the Octagon or away from television appearances. It’s still a slippery slope in regards to sponsorships and fighters are always looking for that extra buck that could be harder and harder to find.
It’s very possibly in the next few years you won’t see any sponsors on any shorts and will be a solid color that the fighter prefers. It could be a blast from the past from when the UFC first began, but could also hurt the wallets for many people.
This will force managers and fighters to find other ways to help businesses attract more traffic. It very well could be a hard road at first to pursue and will take time before convincing MMA can draw in money for all parties involved.